Keeping with my goal to pack multi-purpose lip items for Taiwan, I also took these L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm SPF15 with me. Yep, all 8 of them. Because it's hard for me to pick just a few, so much for packing light :P
L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm SPF15. All pictures taken in natural light without flash.
These are tinted balms in a nice lipstick-like gold twist up bullets with square base. They don't have that substantial weighty feel like Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter (precisely the reason I did not bring Revlon with me!), but they aren't plastic-y or tacky like the Maybelline ColorSensational Pop Sticks either. I would have preferred a smaller and more slender round tube like Sephora Hot Hues Neon Lip Balm, but if you didn't know better, you'd think I was swiping on some high-end lipstick and not a drugstore lip balm!
Left: 118 Pink Satin, 218 Rose Elixir, 219 Plush Plum, and 318 Heavenly Berry.
Right: 418 Caring Coral, 518 Tender Mauve, 818 Nourishing Nude, and 819 Caramel Comfort.
That's not to say the packaging is perfect. These balms aren't shrink wrapped by the manufacturer and are only sealed with a sticker. Since the cap is translucent, if the balms have been tested or tampered with, one should be able to tell. And yet somehow Walgreens sent me a few with their gold tubes smeared all over, the worse being the 318 Heavenly Berry below. At first I thought they might have melted, or even that a malicious shopper had gotten their stinkin' hands on them. However, upon uncapping any sign of tampering would have been apparent from the top surface, may be even along the length of the balm stick, and nope, the top surface remained perfectly pristine and the rest of the balm stick looked untouched. This led me to think the mess happened during the manufacturing and/or packaging process instead. Thankfully, cleaning up was a breeze, and as you can see the outer gold tube with the square base is quite elegant looking and not at all gaudy. So for everything L'Oreal has done right with this packaging, I'll overlook these unsightly hiccups ^.^
318 Heavenly Berry - what in the world happened here?
I think the Colour Riche Balm is probably a misnomer, because they're not color rich at all! I know everyone and their sisters have already compared these to the Revlon Lip Butters, but I'm going to beat the dead horse in pointing out that these supposedly "competing" products are actually they're quite different. Check out the swatches below and compare them to those of Revlon's. How do you compete with that? Save for 219 Plush Plum, 518 Tender Mauve, and 819 Caramel Comfort, none of the others actually shows on my lips as they're either my-lips-but-better colors or are totally sheer. And mind you, this is coming from someone who prefers her makeup sheer and would only wear one layer of lipstick on her lower lip as a stain! In fact, I'd say these are even less pigmented than the Maybelline Baby Lips, all of which go on my lips with much more potency than swatched!
118 Pink Satin and 218 Rose Elixir
Does it mean I dislike these L'Oreal balms for having no pigment? The opposite, actually. If anything, I carry these around with me and not the Clinique Chubby Sticks because I never need a mirror to slather them on :P However, for those who are looking for some color, especially if you're paying retail, these "Colour Riche" Balms will utterly disappoint. I'd recommend Revlon Lip Butter if you want some color with the added bonus of some moisture. If you're looking for a lot more color with the added bonus of some moisture, and are willing to pay a little more, I'd recommend Clinique Color Surge Butter Shine Lipsticks.
219 Plush Plum and 318 Heavenly Berry
Texture wise, these L'Oreal balms are nowhere as buttery as the Revlon Lip Butters but are slightly thicker than the Maybelline Baby Lips. They do glide on very smoothly and feel more like an oil-based balm rather than a wax-based one, leaving a nice sheen but not quite glossy. They are all scented with the same sweet but not too coying vanilla cupcake fragrance. Best of all, they are more moisturizing than both Revlon and Maybelline, even if their pigmentation is a big failure.
418 Caring Coral and 518 Tender Mauve
Honestly though, when it comes to lip balms I've been spoiled rotten, having started out with the fantastic Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush Soothing Lip Balms, which I don't even see on the VS website anymore and don't know if that means they're in the process of being repackaged (like they were in 2009) or discontinued. I've been using this fantastic hybrid oil-based balm-gloss for 8+ years now (yes, I stocked the hell out of it!) and nothing else comes close to replacing it for me. There are numerous second favorites though, like the multi-purpose Naturally by Victoria's Secret Blackberry & Tonka Bean All-over Moisture Salve, sadly also discontinued, any of the multi-purpose salves or balms by the Rose & Co Apothecary (UK) or the Rosebud Perfume Company (US), especially the Minted Rose Lip Balm. There are fall-backs too, like the B&C Laboratories Lip Creams (Japan) or the C.O. Bigelow's Rose Salve. In stick form for traveling ease there was the discontinued Boscia Jujube Salve Stick, the pricey-but-likey Caudalie Lip Conditioner (at $12 a pop!), and the recently discovered made-in-Germany Nivea lip balms, which I will review next ^.^
818 Nourishing Nude and 819 Caramel Comfort
Where do these L'Oreal Colour Riche Balms stand among the above? Umm, let's just say won't be stocking up on them like I did with my beloved VS Beauty Rush Soothing Lip Balms, or even buying a backup or two like the second favorites and fall-backs. Sure, the L'Oreal ones are new, fun, and hygienically convenient for a long trip, but at $7.99 for 0.10 oz./2.9 g of product I'm really paying for that pretty, high-end lipstick-like packaging that I don't need or care for. At least the Revlon Lip Butters, similarly expensive at $7.49 for 0.09 oz./2.55 g of product, have some color!
- 118 Pink Satin: a pretty cloud pink with very fine pearly pink shimmers. Swatched pretty much clear and goes on my lips the same way.
- 218 Rose Elixir: a pretty but transparent peachy pink, has very fine and scattered gold shimmers but they don't show up at all, even in the swatch. Definitely a my-lips-but-better color as it matches my lip pretty well!
- 219 Plush Plum: finally, some color! Again with scattered fine gold shimmers, it looks a scary brownish plum in the tube but swatched a lovely translucent berry that's shimmer-free. Goes on me with a touch of violet even! Love it! I carry this with me at all times as I reach for it whenever I want some color on my lips!
- 318 Heavenly Berry: I was hoping this would have some color like the 219 Plush Plum but it turns out to be transparent like the 218 Rose Elixir. Does give my lips a hint of pinky berry though so at least it's not completely clear. This one has no shimmers.
From left to right: 118 Pink Satin, 218 Rose Elixir, 219 Plush Plum, and 318 Heavenly Berry.
- 418 Caring Coral: a translucent coral peach with very fine pearlized gold shimmers. Another my-lips-but-better color.
- 518 Tender Mauve: this one is a disappointment. It looks mauvy in the tube, swatched more of a pretty and paled lilac but somehow turns totally opaque on me and makes me look very ill. Also has very fine shimmers.
- 818 Nourishing Nude: a translucent nude peach with very fine pearlized gold shimmers that doesn't show. This one disappears completely onto my lips and no matter how much I layer on!
- 819 Caramel Comfort: a surprisingly opaque brownish nude with fine gold shimmers. It's probably the most pigmented one in this batch of 4.
From left to right: 418 Caring Coral, 518 Tender Mauve, 818 Nourishing Nude, and 819 Caramel Comfort.